NOTES: Well, for starters, feedback makes the world go 'round. This is kind of a series, I have the others written already, not all of the ones I'm planning, but I have quite a few, so I'm going to post one each day. They aren't chapters to a story, and you don't need to read all of them to get the other ones. I'm just going to post the in the order I wrote them. Happy reading!
"I need you to go get Shannon."
Boone was stunned into silence by his mother's words. "Did you hear me?"
"You've heard from Shannon?" Boone asked.
"Well, I heard from her credit card bill," his mother said, tossing the bill into his lap. "She's started running up bills on her safety credit card. Probably maxed out the others."
Boone picked up the bill without looking at it. "So you want me to what, exactly? Rescue her? Be her knight in shining armor? Isn't that what got us here in the first place?"
His mother just looked at him, silently pleading with him, her eyes brimming over with tears. "I need you to go save my baby."
"Mom, I haven't even seen her in a year and a half."
"And it will be another year and a half if we don't act now. We both know if we wait too long she'll pick up and find somewhere else to hide out." She was begging now, and he kept expecting her to get down on her knees. "I can't take another 18 months of this, Boone. I just can't. You've got to help me out, here."
Boone weighed his options. Part of him was aching to hop on the first flight he could get and fly anywhere in the world to save his baby sister, his Shannon. Another part of him wanted to let her go. That part of him wanted Shannon to be miserable. He'd tried to help before. A lot of good that had done. The last time he had seen her she was stumbling drunkenly away from their apartment, turning back only to give him the finger and to call him a "fucking asshole." His sister had turned into a person he didn't know, and he wanted to let that person fade away from his life, forever.
Boone looked at the credit card bill. $400 for a handbag. Well, at least her taste held up, even in the middle of a breakdown. He looked up at his mother, her eyes tired from crying. Not just the crying from the conversation, but the crying from the 18 months Shannon had been missing, and the months before that when her little girl had turned into the biggest joke in town.
"Where is she?" He asked.
The only thing Boone could think about on the flight was how much he hated Shannon.
She was selfish, that was for damn sure. She never lifted a damn finger to help their mother when they were children, even after their father had died. And she bought shit all the time. Things she never used, just so she could say she had it. And she never gave anyone anything. You'd think that with the amount of things she bought she'd think it would be nice to give some of her older things away, but no, not Shannon. She still held on to this tube top she'd had when she was 11. It would barely fit on her thigh, but she refused to let it go.
He hated what she'd put their mother through. Their wonderful, sweet mother, who had already gone through enough grief losing a husband. Now she was going through the trauma of losing her daughter. She'd never been anything but understanding when Shannon wouldn't come home for days at a time, and then stumble in, smelling of liquor and cheap cigarettes. She'd still loved her, still worried about her, and all Shannon did was call her a bitch and tell her to stay out of her life.
He hated that she had followed after their asshole father, that even after he'd died of liver failure that she kept drinking like a fish. What he hated even more was that she acted just like him. Like her life was the only one that mattered, and that everyone who tried to help was actually against her.
He hated that she was making him get on a plane to fly all the way to Australia just to rescue her sorry ass.
He hated her for no handling the guilt of their sins as well as he was able to. He hated that she was selfish about that, too.
He hated her for not being half the person he was. He was good, he knew it. And he hated that she never could be.
He hated that after a year and a half of struggling not to care about how much she had ruined her life, that one credit card bill could make him worry himself sleepless about whether or not she was okay.
And he hated her mostly because, no matter how much he tried not to, he still loved her.
Their mother had given Shannon the safety credit card for her 21st birthday. It was a "just in case" thing. "Just in case you ever get stuck in the middle of nowhere or something." That was their mom, always worrying.
Shannon had used the safety credit card to pay for the hotel she was currently staying at, so Boone didn't need to waste time searching the city for Shannon. It took him a bit of time to convince the guy at the front desk that he was her brother, but he finally got the room number out of the geezer.
He walked up to his room, slowly, like a man walking to his death. He went over all possible scenarios in his head, none of them being good. She could be in there with some guy, a nameless gomer who she won't even remember the next day. Or worse, she'd be completely alone, drunk off her ass, and she'll throw herself at him, like she'd done so many times before. But neither of those compared to the worst possibility, which made him sick just to think of it. She'd be stone-cold sober, just sitting in her room, and he wouldn't be able to keep his hands off her.
He held his breath and knocked at the door, bracing himself as best he could for any of the scenarios. He half hoped she wouldn't even be there, that the front desk had made some mistake and she had checked out that morning, not to be seen or heard from for another year or so. But when the door flew open, there was Shannon, standing there irritably, pissed as hell that someone dare bother her. She looked different, and he barely recognized her. She had wasted away to a piece of nothing, thinner than he'd ever seen another human being, and she was paler. Probably from sitting in her room, alone, with the curtains drawn during one of her day-long binges. And her hair. She'd chopped it off. The golden hair that he'd loved so much now dangled just above her shoulders.
Shannon's hand flew to her mouth in surprise. "Boone." It came out as little more than a strangled whisper. "Hey baby sis," he said, leaning into the room slightly, hoping she'd invite him in. It took everything he had in him not to hug her until she couldn't breathe. The hate drained away, the urge to hurt her subsided. He was stunned at how happy and relieved he was to see Shannon. He had wanted to slap her before she'd opened the door. Now that urge faded away, with all the hate-fueled thoughts he'd had about his Shannon.
To his surprise, she slapped him. The sound stunned him more than the actual pain. Shannon was pretty weak, but it still made a satisfying crack as her had slapped his face. "What the fuck are you doing here?" she cried angrily.
"Jesus, Shan." Boone touched his face. "I don't see you for over a year and this is the greeting I get?"
"Why are you here?" She demanded.
"Mom's worried. Wants me to beg you to come home. I told her it was pointless, but I came anyway."
"I don't want to go anywhere," Shannon slurred slightly.
Boone recognized the slur. The slur she got when she spent a lazy afternoon drinking away whatever trouble she thought she had. "How many have you had today?" he questioned.
Shannon gave him a death glare, which had no affect on him. He'd grown quite used to it. "Fuck you."
"Just let me in. Please?" He looked at her with poppy dog eyes. Eyes she couldn't resist, not since they were children.
Shannon considered it for a moment, then moved to the side, allowing Boone access to her room. The scene that greeted him was startling. The room was a mess, light blocked out by heavy curtains, half empty bottles of liquor and pills littering the tables.
"Christ," Boone said as Shannon sat at the table, sipping a half finished drink. Boone went to knell in front of her, keeping the respectable distance they had silently established as teenagers. "Shannon. Shan. Please come home. Please."
"Why? So you can fix me? Didn't you try that last time?"
"Yeah, we did."
"And didn't I give you the finger?" She asked, nudging Boone even further away with her foot.
"That you did."
They silently stared at each other for a moment. "Mom's a mess," Boone said.
Shannon shrugged. "Let her be." She finished her drink and set it on the table. Boone stared at her intensely, but she refused to make eye contact with him. "I'm sorry the last thing I said to you was…calling you an asshole."
Boone chuckled. "It was a 'fucking asshole' if I remember correctly."
"You probably do," Shannon said, playing idly with her empty glass. Boone could see her pain, and he wanted to make it go away. He placed his hand on her knee, trying to comfort her, but she was immediately out of the chair, on the other side of the room. Boone knew he had blown the little rapport they'd had going.
Shannon began fixing another drink. "Why are you like this?" Boone asked her.
Shannon rolled her eyes. "Gee, I wonder, Big Brother." She looked back at him, anger in her eyes. "You hate that I can't cope with it as well as you did. Because it makes you feel guilty. Doesn't it?"
Boone refused to answer.
"You know," Shannon continued, "guys don't even look at me. It's like they know, like they can smell it, or like I have it written on my forehead or something. I throw myself at them and they want nothing to do with me. I feel like I'm labeled. 'Damaged goods'."
"You think I don't feel exactly the same way?"
"No. Somehow you thinking you're a fucking saint cleans your conscience. Suddenly you're Saint Boone, and it's like it never happened. That' why you hate me, because I won't let you let go."
Boone glared at her, clenching his fists. He wanted to hit her. He wanted to fit her so bad, he could almost taste the desire. And Shannon knew it.
"You hate me." She was baiting him.
"You do. So do something about it."
Boone hit her hard across the jaw. She fell to the ground with a loud thud, clutching her face as if she had been shot.
"Oh, shit, Shan. I'm sorry," Boone said, scurrying to help her up from the floor.
"It's okay. I'm so pumped full of painkillers I barely felt it."
Boone helped her to the couch and got some ice from the ice bucket and wrapped it in a towel. He pressed it gently to her jaw.
"Just come home," Boone pleaded gently. "You need help. You need your family."
"So stay with me," Shannon said, turning her head to look at him. Their noses almost touched, and neither made an effort to move. "If I need my family's help so much you can stay here with me."
Boone scooted toward the other side of the bed. The proposition made him uncomfortable. "I don't think that's a good idea." She was trying to manipulate him and he knew it. He always knew it.
"I like it here. It's the first place that's ever felt like home, and I'm not leaving. If you think I need help so bad, we can do it here. I won't change unless you stay."
There it was. The ultimatum. Shannon was so good with those. She knew Boone could never say no to her.
"Fine," Boone said, knowing he had just resigned himself to the fate he thought he had left behind long ago.
"Come here. Come closer and say it to my face."
Boone moved closer to Shannon on the bed. She took his hand and looked straight into his eyes. "I'll stay," he said.
Shannon smiled. "Good."
Shannon had been sober for seven months before Boone had finally been able to convince her to come home, just for a visit. He knew she was a nervous wreck over it. He had no idea how bad it was.
She'd made so much progress. She was in AA, she had put a lot of weight back on, and she was even tanning again. He was proud of Shannon, but it made things so much more difficult for him. A sober, beautiful Shannon was almost too much to handle, and he could barely keep his hands off her. Their respectable distance rule hadn't' been broken since that night in her room, the night he had hit her.
She'd had her temptations to drink again, specifically when the tension between them simply became to much and they had to go to practically different ends of the city to keep their hands of each other. They had been strictly brother and sister during the months she was sobering up, only spending time together when they absolutely needed to. They knew how to keep their desires at bay. They had been doing it for years. Only Shannon had made it easier by drinking. Now she had nothing, and she was at her wits end.
Boone had observed her the night before they left, packing her bags nervously, dropping things left and right. He knew she was going to crack that night, and he knew there was nothing he could do about it. A part of him actually wanted her to get drunk. When she drank she was repulsive. It was easier to keep his thoughts about his sister locked away that way. So that night he went out with some friends, leaving her in her room, alone, to do whatever she wanted.
He expected he'd return home to her passed out on the bed, her mouth hanging open, drool dripping onto the pillow. He'd look at her, shake his head in disgust, and retire to his bedroom.
Instead, he was greeted by the sound of her quiet sobs, coming from her bed. They pierced his heart. Each sob felt like someone was stabbing him. He walked over to her bed and sat by her. "Shan?"
"Oh, god Boone. Go away. Please just go away."
"I couldn't take it. I just…I couldn't. I couldn't think about facing her…after all I'd done. I had to. I had to take a drink. I couldn't…." she sobbed, and tried to hide her face with her arm.
"Shan, shh. Shan, it's okay." He rubbed her arm, trying to comfort her. He felt terrible about what he had thought earlier that day, about hoping she'd take a drink.
Shannon moved her arm from her head, but refused to look at Boone. "I'm weak Boone. I'm so weak."
"No, you aren't. You're strong. You've held on for 7 months. This was just a little slip up. You are so strong. It won't happen again."
She sniffled, trying to roll over, but Boones arm, leaning against the other side of the bed, was in her way. "You made me this way, you know."
Boone froze for a moment. He was angry at her at first, for trying to put the blame on him. "What do you mean."
"I was so strong with you. When we were kids. You made me so strong. I didn't have any friends and nobody liked me, but I always had you. And with you it didn't matter."
He listened to her, his anger subsiding, trying to understand her inane ramblings. "They all hated me. Called me a bitch. Not even behind my back, but right to my face. Do you have any idea how much that hurts? I hated myself. But then there was you. And you loved me. And you thought I was beautiful. And you didn't think I was a bitch."
Boone was silent, the weight of this revelation shattering him. He'd never known how much he'd meant to Shannon. How much what they did meant to her.
"And then you started going out with what's-her-name. And you stopped touching me, and you stopped kissing me, and you stopped loving me."
"I never stopped loving you," he tried to explain, but Shannon wouldn't listen.
"And suddenly I wasn't allowed to be around you. I couldn't even look at you without you yelling at me, telling me I was disgusting. You kept saying, 'Find someone else Shannon, do what I did.' But I didn't want anyone else. I only wanted you."
She tried again to roll over, but failed, so she shielded her face with both arms, sobbing.
"Shan," Boone pleaded, trying to get her to take her arms away from her face. "Shan, listen to me, please." He pulled her arms away and looked at her face. Her eyes were puffy and wet, her lips slightly swollen. He'd never seen anything so beautiful.
"It was so hard for me to let go of you," Boone started. "But…I thought I was hurting you. I thought that if we kept on like we were that I would hurt you. I though….I thought I was helping you."
"You mean…you really wanted me?"
"Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to let you go? To not hold your hand while we watched TV, to not kiss you before you went to sleep? Shannon, for Christ sake, it was torture."
Shannon reached up and touched his face. "You never stopped loving me?"
"I never stopped loving you." He wiped the tears away from her face and leaned in to kiss her. First he kissed his lips lightly to her forehead, then to each of her eyes, kissing her tears away. Then he pressed his lips gently against hers. She was hesitant at first, but eventually she gave in, opening her mouth and inviting his warm tongue to brush against hers. He lied down next to her, never breaking there kiss. When the need for air finally became to much, they pulled away, gasping for air.
"Boone?" Shannon asked quietly.
"I never stopped loving you either."
The next morning they dressed in silence, the weight of what they had done hanging over them like a dark storm cloud, waiting to explode. It would have been bad at all if they could just stay there forever, never having to face anyone who knew, anyone who might disapprove. But they had to see their mother that very day, and they were both anticipating the look on her face. She'd always been able to read them, and she would be able to see their shame in a second. And she'd just smile a strained smile and act like she knew nothing, like she had always done when they were children.
On the way to the plane their respectable distance rule was back in effect. They both felt the eyes of everyone in the airport on them, and the felt like they could see, like they knew. Shannon kept her head down until they reached the plane, a mixture of shame and the hangover that was causing her head to pound a little more with each step.
They boarded the plane and refused to look at each other, both thinking about their mother's face, and how much they hate that look of knowledge in her eyes, and how much they didn't want to face it. And the both hoped that the plane didn't have to land.